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Rosenworcel: ISP Coronavirus Pledge is Good First Step, But...

Jessica Rosenworcel

Jessica Rosenworcel

Senior Democratic FCC commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel acknowledged that signing on to chairman Aji Pai's coronavirus connectivity pledge was a good thing, but that they needed to do more. 

Related: ISPs Take Pai Pledge 

Carriers large and small have agreed to sign Pai's pledge that they will: (1) "not terminate service to any residential or small business customers because of their inability to pay their bills due to the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic; (2) "waive any late fees that any residential or small business customers incur because of their economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; and (3) "open their WiFi hotspots to any American who needs them." 

In a statement on that pledge, Rosenworcel called that "a welcome first step," but had her own three essentials, though she did not ask for pledge-signers. 

"First, we need to get to work to connect schoolchildren. Schools are closing and so many students are being told that their classes are migrating online. We can use our universal service powers to provide hotspots for loan for students whose school doors have closed. We need to act immediately so that no child is offline.  

"Second, we need to get to work on connecting hospitals and patients just as the FCC did in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The FCC should work with health care providers to ensure connectivity for telehealth services are available for hospitals, doctors, and nurses treating coronavirus patients and those who are quarantined. 

"Third, we need to expand these pledges and make adjustments to FCC programs so that even more Americans can get online during this crisis at little or no cost. Where data caps and overage fees are in place, they need to be lifted and eliminated." 

AT&T has already pledged to suspend overage fees and ISPs are making broadband free to low-income households who aren't already part of their subsidized programs.  

John Eggerton
John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.